West Brom v Arsenal

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Find out who trained ahead of the West Brom game

Alexandre Lacazette and Hector Bellerin in training before the West Brom game

We face West Bromwich Albion on New Year's Eve, and our first-team squad continued their preparations for the Premier League match with a training session on Saturday morning.

Our club photographer was there too - and sent back these images.

Pre-Match Report

West Brom v Arsenal: The Brief

To give some context to the scale of Arsene Wenger’s reign in England, it is informative to rewind 810 games back to October 1996 when the Frenchman was just about to take charge of his first Premier League match, away at Blackburn.

The new Arsenal manager had arrived in England just a few months after the Spice Girls had released their first single, the Prince and Princess of Wales had completed their divorce and Alan Shearer had become the most expensive footballer in the world after signing for Newcastle for £15 million.
 
Wenger would of course win that first game, at Ewood Park, and has since taken charge of a further 809 top-flight games, equalling the record of his old adversary Sir Alex Ferguson. In that 21-year period he has picked up three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups - and while the achievement of hitting a record 811 Premier League games as manager on Sunday will not mean as much as them, he should feel a large degree of pride.
 
It is a remarkable achievement, and to find out how the man we call ‘the boss’ feels about it - and the game at West Brom - read on for a comprehensive pre-match briefing. We’ve got classic goals against West Brom, team news, an exclusive chat with the manager, match facts, graphics and a chance to have your say.


WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

Wenger on his memories of his very first Premier League game in October 1996…
 
“Of course I was excited. I came back from Japan and was happy to have a chance in England because I always wanted to manage here. I didn’t know how well I would be accepted by the players. It’s difficult to put that into context because they were basically all over 30.

"Nine of the players were over 30, Dennis Bergkamp and Paul Merson were 29, but all the others were 30, 31 or 32. They were strong men who had an English spirit, and lots of players had strong personalities. You never know what kind of resistance you’ll get there for change.” 

Arsène Wenger on 811 PL games

TEAM NEWS:

ARSENAL: Cazorla (ankle), Monreal (ankle - doubt), Ramsey (hamstring), Giroud (hamstring)
 
WEST BROM: London (hamstring), Chadli (thigh)

THE OPPOSITION

Tactical expert Michael Cox:
 
“West Brom can drop rather too deep without possession, allowing space in deeper positions. Arsenal’s defenders and defensive midfielders might be allowed time to play dangerous balls into the final third.” 


THE LAST WORD

Wenger on the legacy he would like to leave …
 
“That I had a positive influence on the club’s life, that I worked in accordance to the values that were important to me and important to the club, that I respected that and I worked with complete commitment and integrity. That’s basically it. Also that the club didn’t suffer on a major setback during my period, but moved forward.” 

Matchday Show promo: West Brom (a)

Goals

Check out our best goals away to West Brom

We’ve travelled to West Bromwich Albion a number of times in the Premier League era - and we’ve scored some special goals too.

Remember Danny Welbeck’s towering header a couple of seasons ago? And what about Tomas Rosicky’s thunderbolt? Or Thomas Eisfeld finishing a fine team move with aplomb?

Watch five our our best goals against Sunday’s opponents above and then vote for your favourite below:

Matchday Show

Follow our game on New Year's Eve LIVE

Matchday Show promo: West Brom (a)

We’re back in Premier League action against West Bromwich Albion on New Year’s Eve - and you can follow the match LIVE on Arsenal.com.

Tune in to our website for the following:

  • Matchday Show, with live build-up from 4pm (UK time) and audio commentary from 4.30pm (UK time)
  • Live text commentary - featuring minute-by-minute updates and insights from our fans on Twitter
  • A short goals clip and full match highlights will be available from midnight on Sunday

It's all free with Digital Membership - and remember, you can listen on the Arsenal App too!

Interview

‘He's a special character to return to that level'

Jack Wilshere’s renaissance has been one of the stories of our season.

The England international started the campaign with question marks over his fitness - and his future - but he’s emerged as a pivotal player.

Nine appearances in five weeks, including four consecutive starts, culminated in an influential display against Crystal Palace on Thursday night.

Jack’s visionary assist for Alexis’ second goal secured us a 3-2 win and Arsene Wenger has seen significant improvements from our long-serving midfielder.

“I believe that he has really improved tactically and defensively,” said the boss.

“When he does that his defensive game becomes even better because Jack has a great quality when he wins the ball, he plays well when he prefers pressure. He has that little burst there to take you out of pressure, and then suddenly he can open the game up.”

‘That little burst’ often gets a mention when Jack is at or close to his best, and it’s been heartwarming to see a player so troubled by injuries back in the thick of it.

“We must give credit to this guy,” said the boss. “He has come through and his performance [at Palace] deserves some credit because it demands some character.

“Overall I have a big respect for Jack because it’s all nicey-nicey when you are super-talented and are the greatest player ever at 17, but to come back to that level when you have seen what he has gone through? That shows a special character.

“I never thought his career was over because in my job what is a very important quality is that you always continue to believe in human beings. I believe everybody is alive for a fight so I never gave up on him.”

Interview

Wenger - How top flight has changed ‘completely'

When Arsene Wenger is asked how it feels to be on the cusp of a record-breaking 811 Premier League games in charge, he smiles and says simply: ‘Like an eternity!’
 
It has been more than 21 years since the Frenchman’s first game, at Ewood Park on October 12, 1996 - so how has English football changed since then?
 
“The league has changed completely because modern life has regrouped the elite in a few number of units,” Wenger said. “It’s less unpredictable and you have a small number of teams now who have huge ambitions. All the rest have one ambition: to stay in the league.
 
“I’ve spoken to people today and I think the mercenary aspect has become bigger as well. People have their own plans for their careers and if their own club doesn’t suit them anymore, they move on.
 
“I believe the pressure is on the owners now - you have seven, eight or even nine clubs who are scared of going down. I spoke to an owner and he told me, ‘I sacked the manager, I’ve appointed one and I know I might have made the wrong decision but we cannot afford to go down’.
 
“That pressure on every single club is just to save what can be saved, and it’s become absolutely huge. You need to be stronger than before. When you look at the rotation of managers inside the clubs, we have changed six out of 20. That 30 per cent nearly and we are halfway through the season. That means the destabilising factor has become much stronger.”